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Arup selected to manage systemwide sustainability program for California High-Speed Rail

Kathryn Hohs Kathryn Hohs Americas Press Office,Los Angeles
12 July 2023

Arup, a global sustainable development consultancy, today announced that it has been selected by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) to support their sustainability program. Carrying travelers between Los Angeles/Anaheim and San Francisco in under three hours, the high-speed rail system will transform mobility in California for the benefit of communities and the environment.

California High-Speed Rail is set to become the largest, most sustainable infrastructure project in the nation and is the centerpiece for achieving the state’s climate and sustainability goals. The rail system will provide mobility alternatives to one of the busiest short haul flight paths in the United States, saving an estimated 62,000 annual airplane trips, and taking an estimated 400,000 cars off the road annually, transforming the way Californians travel. By linking together California’s population centers, the system will serve as a lever for positive economic growth for communities along the route.

When I imagine the future of California, I see thriving, equitable communities that are connected by means of resilient transportation. High-speed rail has the power to spur a transportation revolution, and Arup is responsible for ensuring its impact is as sustainable as possible. ” Kate White Kate White Associate Principal, West Highways Business Leader

As Sustainability Program Manager, Arup is leading a team of 12 consultants to support the delivery of sustainability services along the entire 500-mile route. Key tasks will include renewable energy modeling and procurement, climate change adaptation and resilience, setting sustainable design criteria, managing greenhouse gas and air quality emissions, carbon offsetting, and sustainability reporting. 

To further the environmental benefits of the system’s design, Arup is committed to incorporating proven, innovative strategies that advance sustainability. The new high-speed rail line will be designed to operate with 100% renewable energy, with an estimated capacity of 1.9 million MWh per year supported by solar power and battery storage systems. To safeguard this critical infrastructure for the next generation, Arup will also be conducting hazard analysis and developing resilient design approaches to mitigate climate change–related risks.

Rendering of high-speed train in California Rendering of high-speed train in California
Courtesy of California High-Speed Rail Authority

“The Authority is dedicated to creating a transformative transportation project," said Margaret Cederoth, Director of Planning and Sustainability. "We are excited to have Arup support the delivery of this ambitious project and help maintain our focus on setting a standard for sustainable infrastructure.  We are eager deliver the backbone of sustainable transportation for California.”

The project has achieved Envision Platinum certification, the highest standard in the framework for sustainable, resilient, and equitable infrastructure developed by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). As a charter member of ISI, Arup has proudly been an early adopter of Envision and is committed to implementing holistic sustainability for the project, which is the largest transportation infrastructure project both in terms of capital investment and geographic area to earn an Envision award to date. Arup will assist the Authority in its effort to maintain its Envision certification through a rigorous process of data collection and validation.

In addition, Arup will be helping implement Authority-driven sustainability strategies into the project specifications to ensure the construction of the rail infrastructure, systems, and stations include the use of zero emission construction vehicles and minimize the embodied carbon of concrete and steel used to build the project. Arup will also maintain the Authority’s robust first-party local program for carbon offsetting.

We will be supporting the delivery of a rail system that is not only a landmark for sustainable infrastructure but also one that uplifts California’s disadvantaged communities. Arup’s ethos is perfectly aligned with the ultimate destination of the project — a better future for planet and people. ” Raphael Sperry headshot Raphael Sperry Associate Principal

The full project team is comprised of Arellano, BASE, Bio Studio, Build Momentum, Convey, ERP, GlobalASR, ICF, OMCI, Polytechnique, Strategen, and Terraverde.